4 Reasons Going Greek Might Not Be For You

By Brittany Hawes on February 24, 2018

Going Greek” might be one of the most commonly heard phrases any incoming college freshman or two-year transfer student is going to hear upon stepping on campus. At many large universities across the United States, Greek sororities and fraternities dominate the campus. Charity organizations are filled to the brim with sisters and brothers from certain chapters, all looking to spread the good name of their chapter to the community. Sorority sisters and fraternity brothers are viewed as some of the brightest students on campus; the most social, the most outgoing, and the most caring. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a part of that?

going greek

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Your first year at university is going to be filled with many choices, twists, and events. You’re going to meet new people, make new friends, and lose some old friends. One of the biggest choices you’ll be making is the choice of whether or not you will be joining a sorority or a fraternity this semester.

You probably have an image in your head of what a sorority or a fraternity is. Or maybe you don’t have the slightest clue but you know it’s a way to meet new people. You’ve heard from other students and graduates how great it is to be a part of the Greek life. “I made so many friends,” some will tell you. “I feel like I grew so much with my brothers/sisters while going to school. I definitely made some of the best memories of my life with my brothers and sisters.” They’ll let you know that you should join. According to them, joining a sorority or a fraternity is pretty awesome. Not only will you be helping your community through charity work and fundraising events, you’ll also be a part of one of the oldest college traditions there is, and you’ll have an instant group of “siblings”. Coming into a school without knowing anyone at all can be terrifying at first and lonely.  One of the appeals of going Greek is having that built-in family that comes with joining a sorority or a fraternity. Once you’re accepted as a promising recruit, everyone in that sorority or fraternity becomes your sister/brother. Plus, you might even have a sister sorority or brother fraternity that automatically becomes part of your family. Everyone looks out for one another. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Going Greek can be a great experience. I have friends who have pledged to a specific sorority and fraternity and they love it. They love having so many close friends and the chance to really get involved on campus. Some of my friends have even told me that without going Greek, they feel as though they wouldn’t have enjoyed college life as much.

While an enjoyable college experience came true for these sorority-bound and frat-tied friends, going Greek may not be the right choice for every incoming freshman or transfer student. Even though joining might seem like a quick way to make friends and get involved on campus, going Greek isn’t possible for every student to do. In fact, there may be better alternatives to Greek life that will be a better match for you, which is something I’ll touch more on near the end of this piece.

How do you know if going Greek isn’t right for you? I’ve got four reasons that may help you decide for yourself whether the Greek life is in the cards for you or if there’s something else out there that might work better.

going greek

1. It costs a lot of money

This is the thing that made me decide against showing up for Rush Week during my first fall semester at Florida State University. Rush Week is one of the biggest events on campus. “Rushing” or “recruitment week” is when fraternities and sororities begin the recruitment process of finding new members to join their organizations. It usually happens twice a year, during the fall and spring semesters. Fraternities and sororities host parties and small get-togethers for interested students and use the parties to get to know each of the students. If a particular organization likes you and what you have to offer, you will receive a bid from them. If you’re into that group, you can pledge with them or turn it down in favor of searching for other chapters that you might be more interested in. Rush week is the time to get to know your prospective chapter and what they stand for. You’ll get to meet the members of each chapter on campus and determine if you’re a good match with them and their mission.

This all sounds great but you can’t just show up to these parties. You will have to register in advance. And if you want to register: it’s going to cost money. Usually, it’s not a big fee. Some chapters only charge interested applicants around $50 to register. That might not seem like a lot to you, but it’s the costs that come after registering that may have you clutching at your wallet with fear.

After pledging, new members will have to pay for things such as national and new member expenses. Then there is the price for the food for the semester, which can be around $1000 a month, depending on which university your chapter is located at, a parlor fee, house fund, national and chapter dues, and other miscellaneous fees. All of this can total around $3000 and can be more at some universities. Plus, you’ll have to pay for T-shirts, trips with sisters and brothers, and other small things that add up.

If you’re willing to pay this much money for something, then it should be something that you’re really wanting to do, not just something you feel like you should be doing because everyone else is doing it or it’s the “college” thing to do. Pledging is a big financial commitment that will cost either you or your parents a lot of money. If it’s your thing, then it will be worth it. If not or if this just seems like a substantial amount of money to spend when you have other financial obligations, this might be one reason that going Greek is not for you.

2. You won’t have enough time

Another reason that going Greek might not be for you is if you’re already an extremely busy person. There’s a reason that it’s called the “Greek Life”. Pledging is not just a small-time promise. Being a part of a fraternity or a sorority is going to be a full-time commitment. There will be times that you might have to cancel on other friends because of fundraising events your chapter is hosting or a party that you have to go to. Greek lie has a lot to do with social events. These are events that you won’t want to miss because you’ll be getting to know your new sisters and brothers as well as meeting new business contacts and finding out new things about your chapter. Greek houses also love volunteer opportunities and charity events and you’ll be expected to show up and contribute to the cause. This is a great way to build your resume and help your community, but it’s also going to take a big chunk of your time.

Members of the Greek life will tell you how time-consuming being a member can be. But what can you do if you want to join other clubs on campus? Or what if you have to get a part-time job in order to support yourself? Will you be able to work out a schedule that will allow you to actively support your new Greek house plus explore other interests/commitments that you already have? Juggling too many things at one time can be stressful, so deciding now if you’ll have the time to be an active sister or brother is crucial to knowing if going Greek will be the right decision for you to make.

going greek

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3. Conformity is not your cup of tea

Maybe you’ve been to a showcase where popular chapters of sororities and fraternities all gather together on campus and showcase their talents. It’s very easy to tell which members belong to each chapter. Maybe all of the members of one particular chapter are of one race or all of the members of another chapter have the same hairstyle, the same T-shirt, the same high heels, or have matching stoic expressions. They all follow the same routine as they showcase their talents, moving as one synchronized unit.

“Wow,” you think. “They all look the same.”

It’s a sad truth around my campus that some fraternities and sororities have come to be known for bidding for people that fit their standards of what a chapter member should look like, dress like, act like, talk like, and think like. I’ve known girls who, after joining a sorority, seemed to become a different person entirely. They began dressing like the other members of their sorority (jean shorts, crop tops, sunglasses) and just weren’t the same to me anymore. None of this is their faults. Sometimes, the pressure of trying to meet your new family’s expectations can cause you to want to conform.

In fact, rush week is all about trying to play nice and please your potential brothers and sisters. You dress to impress, smile as much as you can, and pray that these people will think you’re the right kind of person for their organization. Once you’ve joined, you pledge their motto and swear to be the best sister/brother you can for the group. After that, you spend nearly all of your time with your brothers and sisters. Does this kind of exclusivity and perhaps even conformity appeal to you? If not, this is yet another reason that going Greek might not be for you.

4. You feel like this is the only way you’ll make friends

I know the feeling. Moving to college and away from your family, your friends, and all that you’ve known for maybe your entire life can be scary. You’ve gone from your home to a place that you’ve always dreamed of going, but might feel overwhelmed by. You want to make friends and get to know other people but you might be at a loss as to what to do. Of course, you have your classes where you meet people but it can be hard to make friends in the classroom where everyone is there to learn, not so much to socialize. So, when Friday night rolls around and you’re sitting at home playing your video games and feeling as lonely as ever, you decide that you want to make a change. You want friends.

One way of making friends, a way that you’ve heard maybe ever since the day you decided you were going to apply to your college of choice, is to join Greek life. Yes, joining a sorority or a fraternity will expose you to many, many new people. You’ll be attending parties on a regular basis and meeting new people daily. But there are other ways of making friends on campus. Don’t let your choice to pledge be made solely because of your desire to make friends. That is too much money, too much time, and too much effort to put into something that you can do in a different way.

You can join a club that interests you and you’ll be sure to find people with similar lifestyles and hobbies to your own. You can also join a social club, which functions much like a fraternity or sorority, but dues are much cheaper and the time commitment is more lenient. Clubs like these will still host volunteer events and parties, as well as group trips and sleepovers. I was a part of a club like this and got to meet a bunch of new people, both girls and guys, that were nice and fun to be around. We volunteered at schools, went to one another’s apartments and dorms for get-togethers, met at restaurants to eat, and went to school functions with one another. It was a great time! So you see, there are other ways of making friends and fighting away loneliness other than pledging.

None of this is meant to put Greek life in a bad light. Greek life can be a great way to find yourself and make lasting connections in college. But of course, there are many other ways of achieving these things if going Greek isn’t your right fit.

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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